In the past decade alone, the 130-year-old Ladd Carriage House has been slated for demolition, saved by preservationists, hoisted and rolled down Southwest Broadway on a titanic trailer and finally, towed back up the street in 2008. Five years later the Victorian shell has arisen as Raven & Rose, a multi-million dollar project vying for prominence in downtown’s suddenly vibrant food scene. After all the blood, sweat, and tears, this place had better be good.
Instead of tapping Oregon classics to match the storied building, owner Lisa Mygrant has steered R&R towards “the culinary traditions of Ireland and the British Isles,” where she attended culinary school. But the kitchen is in the hands of former Park Kitchen Chef David Padberg. Instead of bangers and mash and soda bread, Padberg fills his menus with Portland’s familiar rustic American, using house-made pork terrines, wood oven heat, and hearty braised meats paired with a hint of United Kingdom tradition in the form of Yorkshire puddings and griddled crumpets.
Padberg has a way with rabbit. It turns up confited in salty strips with a garlicky, crisp Caesar salad and again on a standout plate of “Rabbit Two Ways:” plump, juicy loin medallions and mustard-braised morsels of hindquarter over creamy kale and a buttery, puffed biscuit. Sweetbreads are done right: crispy on the outside, creamy and bursting with offal flavor on the inside—all coddled on a bed of Brussels sprout leaves, smoky nuggets of lardon and chunks of sunchoke. The seafood is not to be ignored, either. Wood-fired bowls of plump mussels arrive with heaps of sausage in a fennel broth and grilled sturgeon is plated artfully over toothsome flageolet beans and gaping clamshells that pop with salty brine.
Mixologist-about-town David Shenaut’s “historically inspired” cocktails pegged to the building’s 1883 birth date feature many of the same spirits and preparations shaken around town. But he manages to keep bold liquors in-sync, like in the Buck ‘n’ Breck (cognac, absinthe, Argyle sparkling wine), and finds new angles for familiar flavors like Jamaican rum with Jack Ruby tonic, allspice dram, and seltzer in the Slack Tide
But after all the fretting and heavy lifting, the downstairs dining room is way too bright. Stadium lighting lines the white ceiling, illuminating the silver and blue embroidered banquettes, cushy brown barstools, and oversized gas lanterns while a long chef’s counter overflows with a fluorescent wash. Despite the ample 80-seat capacity, tables are jammed up against each other, and with a full house, the din is deafening.
Instead take a stroll upstairs, past the baking station and into the former hayloft, now the “Rookery” bar, complete with vaulted frames, four and a half-foot wide fireplace, ten-seat marble-topped bar, magnificent billiard table, and private library nook. Somewhere between a clubhouse and a lodge, it’s reason alone to visit to Raven & Rose—a space worthy of its illustrious roots and the fare downstairs.
Raven & Rose
1331 SW Broadway
Tues-Sun: 5-10pm (Rookery Bar open until midnight)